Shopping addiction is real - but there are ways to cope, doctor says

Do you ever feel like you've got a shopping addiction? Statistics show about 5 percent of Americans are compulsive shoppers.

What's more common is impulse shopping, both in-person and online. We're going to look at both habits.

If you find yourself constantly adding new items to your online shopping cart - or buying things you really don’t need, you’re not alone.

Impulsive shopping is something we all understand - and compulsive shopping can be a common problem.

Doctor Susan Albers explains that mental health has a lot to do with it.

"Compulsive shopping goes hand-in-hand with emotions and mental health," says Albers of Cleveland Clinic. "It's often a way of coping with
stress, anxiety, and depression.

"Spending is one way that we can fill the emotional void, escape from negative emotions and give us a temporary boost of feeling pleasure in our life."

Doctor Albers, who is a psychologist, says that when you buy something, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released into your brain, making you feel good.

The enjoyment you get is from the experience, not so much the item. Albers says you can help reduce compulsive shopping through simple behavior modification - like pausing before a purchase.

Ask yourself if you really need this item. How will it add value to your life?

You should also focus on how you’re feeling. Are you buying something to escape negative emotions, like anxiety or stress?

Other tips include deleting shopping apps on your phone and setting a budget.

"The difference between compulsive spending and healthy purchases is intention and consequences," she said. "With healthy shopping, we purchase in a calm and planned manner of the things that we need. Compulsive shopping in contrast, is done with a sense of urgency.

There is an emotional trigger and it often results in emotional or financial distress."

A couple of things to do to slow down your shopping, do not store credit card numbers on retail websites..

-Write lists and stick to it.

-Avoid stores - online or in person, and avoid social media influences telling you what you have to buy.

-Everytime you have the urge to shop, redirect to something else like exercise or another hobby.